Sunday, July 5, 2015

We've Moved the Blog

Hi there,

I've finally made the jump. Head on over to for all the updates.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Leaving Home

A few years ago I had a dream. We were living in Texas at the time, but in my dream I was here, at our little yellow house in Colorado, the one we left when we moved, and the one we came home to. I dreamed of standing in the backyard watching birds build their nests. The mommy birds fluffed and arranged, and the daddies flew back and forth, going to work and coming home again, gathering supplies and watching over their lady birds. I remember being delighted and thinking that I needed to call my best friend, because she would love it. In my dream, she was at home in her house, not far and a phone call away. In reality, at the time she lived an ocean away, in Germany.

About a month or so ago, I was standing on our back porch, watching two different bird families building their nests, just a few feet away. The Wrens chose the bbq grill, the small, round, vent holes providing the perfect doorway. They would fly in with sticks and strands of grass longer than their bodies, and angle themselves like a pole vaulter to dart in through the opening. Sometimes the angle was wrong and they would twist away, somersaulting and realigning their burden, time and time again before getting it just right.

The Robins picked a spot at the curve of the drain for the gutter, protected by the eaves and right next to Chloe's window. Momma would fly in with string and twigs, carefully making her selection of different materials. Then she would sit down and wiggle around, making the inside as smooth and firm as an eggshell.

I stood there and was delighted. Then thought, I need to call Sarah, she would love this. And I did, because she had come home too, from her world away and was close enough to share a morning coffee.

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Momma Robin
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Babies. (And yes, 3/4 of our house is yellow, but the back is a brilliant shade of teal.)
This morning, I came outside and two of our robin babies had flown the nest. After watching her sit for days and days, and then the hatching, followed by barely heard peeping and naked little pink heads peeking out, then watching as the babies growing stronger and bolder and louder, I feel like they are our babies too.

The momma and the daddy sat on the back fence and worried over Roscoe's sudden appearance. They fussed so much one of our chickens caught the alarm and started clucking loudly in sympathy. Sure enough, there in the bush sat a dark speckled shape blinking at the wide world it had found itself in. I confess that I wanted to scoop them up and deposit them back safely in the nest until they somehow grew stronger and bigger and more ready. This must be the scariest part, watching your littles be big enough to leave the nest, but not quite strong enough to fly away from danger.

I told the Momma Bird I knew how she felt, and I resisted the urge to plunk them back in the nest because they will not be strong enough to fly if they don't stretch their wings now. So I left them be, and kept my two hairy carnivores in the house instead.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The First Days of Summer

Summer brings me a welcome exhale. Freedom from packing school lunches, ferrying to soccer practices, the morning rush, and the demands of homework. It's all over for a blissful few months, and we are taking deep breaths indeed.
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The view from the kitchen window
We have a momma robin who has tucked her nest right under the eaves by Chloe's window. Her babies just hatched, not yet to the peeping stage, and outside we sit and watch her bringing them food. Today she flew in with a huge moth that was quickly snatched up by reaching beaks.

There is a tiny wren family that built a nest inside our BBQ grill. Momma has been diligently sitting on the nest while the daddy hovers close by. And we are now trudging over to our neighbor's house with our plates of meat.

And inside our nest, two days into summer and we have built a fairy garden, played an epic game of Monopoly, made homemade lemonade and popcorn, eaten outside and watched Agents of SHIELD until far past bedtimes. And also this:

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Cello Love
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Aidan and Roxanne
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Learning the mandolin
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Chloe and Bessie
Here's to summer.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On Stage

I'm staring at my yellow mug, filled with my friend, Bindi's, home made chai, and fervently hoping for some sunshine. "Unprecedented" is what they are calling this rainy Colorado spring. We are used to 300 plus days of sunshine a year, so the constant gloom and drizzle is taxing my outdoor style. The rivers are oversaturated again, our xeriscaping and "drought hardy plants" are drowning with root rot, the chickens are up to their ankles in mud, and my heater is still sporadically still running. On the plus side, everything is green.

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Aidan had his last middle school orchestra concert last night. It's really hard to find ways to express your individuality in orchestra. You are supposed to blend in with the group and create one movement of music and matching style. Aidan's teacher hasn't always appreciated his efforts to set himself apart. The fake mustache didn't go over so well that one time. But for someone who appreciates order as much as she does, she stretched to accommodate his personality, finding ways for him to step out of the box. And for the very last concert, she said "yes" to the kilt. Well done, Ms Plattenberger. 

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The clan Cummings
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8th Grade
Chloe and her two cousins, created an original comedy skit for their talent show. It was a parody on "What Does the Fox Say" with clever slapstick humor. I was in the back, and couldn't hear because the younger kids in front were laughing SO hard.
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Talent Show
Our formerly stage-shy daughter was the mischievous fox, who wouldn't do anything the way that ringmaster wanted. Caedmon was a natural ham, playing the frustrated, serious role, while Chloe danced around, sang and wrecked havoc with his plans. She wasn't sure that she wanted to go through with the idea, but she didn't want to let Caedmon down, and then she loved it. Good friends are like that, they invite you into spaces that you never would have been bold enough to try on your own.
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Talent Show
Noah was the distracted stage hand, Chloe's cohort in crime. He played his part rather naturally.

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The Fox
I took Aidan out of school to skip health and sneak over to watch Chloe. The ladies at the front desk gushed over what a sweet brother he was to come with flowers. Looking closer, they wondered if he had picked from the school's gardens. We assured them of course we wouldn't steal from Ryan Elementary.  Now Angevine Middle School on the other hand...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

More Than Middle School

Mom, this was my last Monday in elementary school...

Every day Chloe has been finding new ways to tell me that she's growing up, that she's leaving familiar things behind for unknown, uncharted territory. And I respond, I know, Baby. Because I do.

I've known from the very moment that I held my newest little bundle in my arms, that these moments are precious, and fleeting. In high school we had to decorate a poster to show what we wanted to be when we grew up. I found a picture of a lady in an apron, holding a spatula, baking something in a large bowl. I'm sure it was some sort of advertisement for Betty Crocker or something, and it was cheesy and stereotypical, not at all trendy or cool. And I remember thinking, Whatever, I don't care what anyone thinks. Because when I grew up, I knew I just wanted to be a mom.

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Me and the Veggie Tales, making something amazing.
So yeah, I'm kinda aware that my baby bird is growing strong flight feathers, and is peeking over the sides of the nest. And I'm super proud. Part of me wants to build the nest higher, but the other part, the better and more selfless part, whispers, I know, Baby, it's almost time to fly.

She will fly because I know what's inside of her. Even though she's a black belt and can disarm an attacker, flip them over, and break their elbow in three places; even though she plays soccer like a fierce little tiger and can out run a cheetah; even though she's beautiful and smart and funny, those things don't define her. And even if someday she can't kick a little white ball into a large net as well, or if she trips and falls and can't run as fast, or if she finds someone more beautiful, smarter or funnier. She's going to be okay. Because her character is what defines her, and her Creator whispers you are enough.

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The Sugar Queen
If I have done my job well, then she will face life head on, knowing that she is precious, priceless, and studded with stars. The thing that I pray over my kids, more than anything else, is, God, help them to know how much they are loved.

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The reason our yard is full of dandelions
Because when you know you are loved, the little things don't matter as much and the big things are more manageable because you know you have a safety net when you fall. And you can do hard things bravely.
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This coming fall, when she heads off to 6th grade, I'll tell her the same thing I told her brother: Decide who you want to be, and be that. With confidence. Everyone else is trying to figure out who they want to be, sometimes they hide themselves by picking on someone else. But if you're brave, and you know, and own, who you are, everyone else who is looking for their place will respect you too. But if you're afraid and insecure, those who doubt themselves the most will try to make you smaller to cover their own fear of not being good enough.

I know you're growing up, Baby Girl. But you're going to rock middle school, because you are more than enough.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Almost Done

We are grinding away towards the end of school. I'm not sure if the kids are more, or less, excited than I am. It seems like everyone is in a final rush to fit things in. My counters are cluttered with papers to sign, field trips to pay for, and my inbox is a steady stream of details to be ironed out. Yesterday, I noticed bits of paper sticking out of open spaces in my purse. It was an eclectic collection of to-do lists scribbled on envelopes, half finished grocery lists in folded up rectangles, and receipts that need to be recorded.

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Chloe had her first "real" concert. All of the 5th and 6th graders in the area schools came together fot a joint concert. She's the cutest little cellist who spiced things up by adding a little tremolo to her song, something she learned from her brother. Her cello is almost as big as she is, and every Tuesday and Thursday, she heads off to the bus stop in her Bombur outfit: cello on the back, backpack strapped to the front, and a folded music stand on the side.

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flowers from daddy
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We drove out to Leadville to watch this guy play some soccer. The other team's coach was a long haired hippie sort, laid back and leathery. He was wearing shorts and a sweater, in contrast to all of us lowlanders, who came decked out in layers of North Face, gloves, hats and blankets. The coach had spent the week shoveling the snow from the field so they could play. And since the referee was in Ukraine, he officiated the game and let his boys coach themselves. Aidan scored the most beautiful goal. Just past mid field and far over on the right, he launched a shot into the upper corner of the net. The parents were all so stunned, we didn't realize it was a goal, because we didn't see how he could have made that shot. In the span of an hour it alternated between gorgeously sunny, snow, and hail.

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Hiding from the camera
Chloe's loving playing club soccer. She's a fierce little whirlwind and has scored in all but one of her games, a couple of times from mid field, sending the ball in the air, over a crowd of defenders. Aidan's been giving her slide tackling lessons because she really, really wants to slide tackle someone.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Staff, Snake, and Brownies

When Moses was confronted with the burning bush, and the voice of God telling him to go and lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, he was a little resistant. He had several logical reasons about why he wasn't a good choice, and why God should choose someone else, and what if no one believes him.

 And so God asks him, "What's in your hand?". Moses replies, "A staff".

(This is my favorite part...) Then God gives him instructions to throw in on the ground and it becomes a snake, which freaks Moses out, and he runs away until God tells him to reach out his hand and pick it up by the tail, and it then becomes a staff again.

The thing that I love so much about this is that I imagine Moses giving his objections out of his own insecurities and then God says, "Fine, what's in your hand? A stick? Great. We'll use that then, so you will know this isn't about you anyway."

This idea "What's in your hand?" is beautiful to me. That rather than feeling insufficient for what we don't have, or who we are not, we can just run forward with whatever we're holding in the moment, because it's not about us anyways, and trusting that God can move in our lives as He chooses.

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On the outside

When I jumped into the contest for Dream Jobbers and needed to create a social buzz for votes, I looked around and thought, "What's in my hand?" The answer was brownies and 8th graders. Aidan trotted off to school with a lunch bag stuffed with homemade goodies. Soon enough, we had quite a following. Some became so dedicated that they obsessively checked my progress, and created multiple accounts in order to cast a vote for all their family members.  Some people (who shall remain nameless) created accounts with names that could have only come from an 8th grade boy, and left comments with spelling errors and enthusiasm for my awesome skills. Voting spiked at Angevine Middle School's lunch hour. I discouraged plots to sabotage other contestants, offers to hack the system, and schemes to boost my street cred with falsified claims about my ability to cure cancer.

World Vision ended up picking someone who had in his hand some sweet videoing skills. Whatever. I still made some kind of impression on the tender hearts of children. In fact, just the other day, Aidan came home with a request from a friend who hadn't seen baked goods in a while. "When is your mom going to try to go to Africa or something again, so we can get some more food?" Brownies matter too, take that, video guy.

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Fluffy, the broody chicken
In conclusion, here is a picture of a broody chicken. This is an example of a sweet, small brained, shy little hen, turned into a crazed velociraptor that chased the German Shepherd around the yard. Proof of what hormones can do.